Rolling Stone Defamation Case Goes to Virginia Jury

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Jurors are expected to begin deliberations today in a defamation trial against Rolling Stone magazine for its tale of a gruesome gang rape at the University of Virginia, reports USA Today. University administrator Nicole Eramo sued the magazine for $7.5 million, claiming a 2014 story “A Rape on Campus” that was later debunked painted her as insensitive to the needs of sexual assault victims and more concerned with protecting the school’s reputation. Lawyers made closing arguments yesterday. Eramo’s attorney, Tom Clare, said writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely ignored facts and neglected to check sources that would have gutted her story line.

Clare argued that Erdely set out to tell a story of “institutional indifference” and stuck with a preconceived narrative. “Once they decided what the article was going to be about, it didn’t matter what the facts were,” Clare said. Rolling Stone attorney Scott Sexton said there was no evidence the magazine knew the story was false before it was published. Sexton urged jurors to consider Jackie’s compelling story and questioned why it would be unreasonable for Erdely to believe her when the university itself had taken the rape claim seriously. “Everyone who encountered this young woman believed her,” Sexton said. “Yet we are the ones, in a sense, being tried for having believed her.”

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